Forest worker

forest craftsperson harvester tractor driver

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would carry out practical tasks in forests and woodlands to help care for and protect the environment. You’d plant, prune, and fell trees. You’d also protect trees from pests and disease.

You’d need to be safety-conscious, responsible and have a good head for heights.

You would:

  • Mark and measure trees to be cut down
  • Prepare the ground for planting by clearing undergrowth
  • Plant new tree seedlings
  • Dig out or install drainage systems
  • Trim and cut back shrubs and other ground cover to promote the healthy growth of trees
  • Use specialist tools to thin out densely wooded areas
  • Harvest trees, strip branches and cut felled tree trunks into specific lengths
  • Protect the forest against insect pests and disease, particularly young trees
  • Clear footpaths and nature trails, and maintain adjoining car parks

To keep recreational sites and woodland areas fit for public use, you may also put up fences, gates, footpath signs and public information notices.

You may be responsible for checking and maintaining basic fire-fighting equipment located near wooded areas, and you may help to tackle forest fires.

Working conditions

Hours

As a forest worker you will usually work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may need to do some overtime and weekend work during busy periods. Part-time and casual work is possible.

Environment

You would work outdoors in all weathers. This is a physically hard job and you need to be fit. The work can be dangerous as you will be using power tools and heavy machinery. You may need protective clothing. You will also need to use a safety harness for climbing trees.

Travel

You may need to do a lot of travelling between different sites, so most employers will expect you to have a driving licence.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Working on your own
  • Working with your hands
  • Being physically fit
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Planning and organising

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

A good general education is normally required for this role and many employers look for National 4s / National 5s (SCQF level 4/5).

A Higher National Certificate in Forestry (SCQF level 7) would be useful. Most NC courses require applicants to have a Higher (SCQF level 6).

An Modern Apprenticeship is also available through the Forestry Commission. For a Modern Apprenticeship you should have National 5 (SCQF level 5) Maths and English.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science

You will also need

  • A driving licence, for the Modern Apprenticeship 
  • To be physically fit

Helpful to have

Previous work experience